------------------------- Usenet_Access.txt ----------------------------
Usenet Access Guide
Author: Uzi Paz
For e-mail contact: user is uzi4wg and domain is uzipaz.com
This version: 12 Apr 1999
First version was: 25 Apr 1996
Comments, both on content and on English, and more questions of a
general type, are welcomed by the author.
Q.1: What is the purpose of this document? What is the reason for
writing this article?
A.1: Historically, it was developed from answers that I gave to
questions appearing on CRUISE-L Listserv list. There was a moment when
I realized that I can gather all my answers together and keep a
single file that I can send whenever someone asks about Usenet access.
My "biggest mistake" was to make it in the Q & A format. In this
format, it looked very poor and incomplete, so I had to add more Q's &
A's, and finally it became a FAQ document.
The purpose of this document is:
1. To explain various ways to gain access to the Usenet, and the
advantages each of them has.
2. To unveil the mystery behind Usenet.
If you need information of a more general nature related to Usenet, or
if you never saw a Usenet message in your life, you may look at the
general references on A.32 .
Q.2: How to get a copy of this article?
A.2: An updated copy of this article can be found in the following
("ftp://" types of URLs can be also accessed by anonymous ftp using
(The address above at CRL, will probably be openned only for the next
Autoresponder: sending an empty message to email@example.com
sending an empty message to firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also a translation to Italian on:
http://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Lab/1645/ua-it.html (might not
always be updated).
If you want to be notified whenever a new version is published
send a message to email@example.com , with "subscribe"
(without the quotes) as the SUBJECT of the message.
The notifications will be accompanied with a short
description of the changes.
If you want to be removed from that list, send an equivalent message,
but with "unsubscribe" (without the quotes) instead of "subscribe".
If you want to know what is the newest version of this article and a
short historical list of updates, you may find it in
If you have any problems with any of the above, you may send me a
private message to the my address mentioned in the title of this document .
If you put a copy of this file on a site with public access (such as
your homepage or an anonymous ftp site) please let me know so I would
update the answer to this question, and send you updates regularly.
Q.3: What is Usenet?
A.3: Usenet (Unix USErs' NETwork) [C.1] is a board for public network
messages. The messages are sent by people who have posting access to
Usenet, and they are divided into different groups (called newsgroups)
by some hierarchy, according to their subject, [C.2].
The messages themselves are sometimes, loosely called `news messages'.
For example: comp.mail.elm is a newsgroup which contains messages
related to a mail program called Elm. It is part of the `comp'
(computation) hierarchy. comp.binaries.ibm.pc is a newsgroup dedicated
to transmission of binaries (programs in this case) for IBM PC, and as
you can guess, is part of the same `comp' hierarchy.
comp.binaries.ibm.pc.d is dedicated for discussions on those binaries;
rec.music.alternative is a newsgroup dedicated to messages related to
alternative music, and as you already guessed is part of the `rec'
(recreation) hierarchy, [C.3].
Each message looks quite like a regular e-mail message, (small
differences in the header).
Formally, the Usenet is a network, different from the Internet.
It is called a logical network as it has a structure but physically
its data is propagated from one location to another via various
different networks, such as the Internet, BBSs and others.
Practically, the Internet adopted Usenet, and browsing Usenet news is
made within the Internet via Internet protocols, (see A.13 and A.14).
Still, one may have access to Usenet without having access to the
The Usenet does not belong to anyone.
For more general information on Usenet, see A.32.
Comments on A.3:
C.1: A comment about the name `Usenet': In the beginning, Unix users
organized as a group and called themselves Usenix,
(http://www.usenix.org). They publicized their network and called
it Usenet. Hence, I believe that Usenet just comes for "USEnix
C.2: You may find information on the more popular hierarchies on:
C.3: I would recommend you to spend some time browsing the list of
newsgroups' names with descriptions, in order to have a feeling on
what exists on Usenet, and the standards of newsgroups' naming.
In order to know how to do it, you may see A.5.
Q.4: What is NetNews?
A.4: Netnews (Network News) is a less common, older synonym for Usenet.
Q.5: How many newsgroups exist? Where are they listed?
A.5: Nobody knows exactly, and the number is changed daily. (In fact
it grows exponentially). There are many newsgroups which are local to
specific institutes, networks, or areas and do not propagate outside.
over 500 hierarchies exist on Usenet ! Most of them are local [C.1].
It was estimated [C.2] that the number of newsgroups doubles itself
every year and a half. Hobbes Internet Timeline (HIT) presents tables
which show the Usenet growth both in number of servers, in number of
newsgroups and in amount of data flows. It agrees very roughly with
the above mentioned estimation. See the last few paragraphs on A.32
for locations of HIT.
In order to clarify the situation:
the newsgroups are divided into two categories:
1) "official" newsgroups, usually referred as belonging to "the big
eight" hierarchies: comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc, talk.
Originally Usenet was planned to include only this category. In order
to open a new group, one has to make some procedure, which
includes a discussion on Usenet and a voting procedure.
The number of newsgroups in this category is well known, and on
13 Feb 1998 there were 2241 newsgroups in this category. Until
Dec 1996, Every two months or so, the moderator of
news.announce.newgroups posted an updated list of these newsgroups to
news.answers, news.groups, news.announce.newgroups, and
news.lists.misc newsgroups, but since Dec 1996 this periodic
posting was discontinued, and if you wish to receive the list of
newsgroups in the big-eight hierarchies you must extract it from the
more general list on ftp://ftp.isc.org/pub/usenet/CONFIG/
You may compile it from the "newsgroups" file on that direcory.
The last periodic announcement was in three parts, and they can be
received from RTFM server, either via e-mail by sending a message to
firstname.lastname@example.org with only a single line as the body of your
or via anonymous ftp from rtfm.mit.edu at directory:
files: part1, part2, part3 .
2) alternative, local, and regional hierarchies. As Usenet is a world
without police, it was only a matter of time until people ignored
the rules for placing a new newsgroup, and put their new newsgroups on
Usenet, skipping the discussion period, and the voting. This
was the origin of the alt hierarchy, the biggest and most anarchic
hierarchy on Usenet. Many institutes/organizations put new newsgroups
in order to serve some local/regional needs, some of those hierarchies
have rules for opening new newsgroups, in some of those hierarchies,
there is a "dictature" of some institution which decides which
newsgroup to accept, while in others, in order to open a new newsgroup
one has to make a procedure equivalent to the one of the "eight big
Nobody knows how many such newsgroups exist. Some sites hold more than
80,000 newsgroups. Some of them are very popular, most of them are
You may find a very comprehensive list of newsgroups (from both
categories on Tile.
You may visit Tile in http://www.tile.net/news/ . It is a very good
place to learn what newsgroups exist, what is the purpose of each
newsgroup, and other statistics about each newsgroup.
Another option is the Liszt service, which will find for you a proper
newsgroup according to keywords that you provide it. In order to use
Liszt either enter http://www.liszt.com or send an empty message to
email@example.com for receiving a help file on the usage of Liszt
Another search engine:
can be used with keywords directly e.g. for a single keyword "audio":
or for newsgroups containing more than one keyword, sperate the keywords by a
"+" sign, e.g. for "audio", and "broadcast" use:
Dejanews also offer such a service:
Another very nice list is the CyberFiber list on:
A single file which lists all newsgroups which are supported by UUNET
can be found on:
There are too many other lists to be mentioned here.
A list of other places where newsgroups are listed can be found on:
http://www.ii.com/internet/messaging/newsgroups/ which is mirrored to
Comments on A.5:
C.1: An impressive list of newsgroups' hierarchies is the "Master List"
by L.S. Eisen. You may find it either by ftp:
ftp://ftp.magmacom.com/pub/misc/Master_List.txt , or in HTML:
http://home.magmacom.com/~leisen/master_list.html , or via e-mail:
by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with SUBJECT:
"Send Master" (without the quotes).
C.2: Source is from "Mining for Gold on the Usenet highway (1996)" course
by Spectrum Universal (http://www.vu.org), another place where this
estimation appears is
which can also be found in a GZIP compressed format:
Q.6: How many messages per day are posted to a typical newsgroup?
A.6: There is no such a thing as `typical newsgroup'. Some newsgroups
are practically dead and rarely receive messages. Other may have from
few messages per day, to hundreds (!) of new messages each day.
As in the former question, you may find statistics on every newsgroup
in http://www.tile.net/news/ .
Q.7: What do I need in order to have access to Usenet?
A.7: In order to gain access to Usenet you need three things:
1) A source of Usenet news, i.e. a computer that holds the news (i.e.
the data) and on which you have permission to read/browse/receive news
from it. Such a computer is called "news-server" (even if the computer
has other purposes as well).
2) A news program, (i.e. a program which you can use in order to
read news). Such a program is usually called a `news-reader', and
also sometimes `news-browser'. Some news-servers allow you to gain
access to Usenet via "ordinary programs" such as e-mail programs.
(In the more technical jargon "Some news-servers allows you to gain
access to Usenet via protocols different than NNTP, such as SMTP etc.)
If you did not understand the technical jargon, return to it after
There are many programs which offer a combination of e-mail and Usenet
e.g. PINE (http://www.cac.washington.edu/pine), and Agent
(http://www.forteinc.com/agent/index.htm). Web-browsers usually also
offer Usenet Access (See A.21)
3) A connection between the news-server and your computer.
This may be an Internet connection (i.e. TCP/IP connection), but
other connections or networks can do as well. On the Internet, the
connection usually is the same as the regular telnet connection, (in
fact, you can use telnet in order to receive the news).
On other networks, you may still have access to Usenet, but the level
and the type of connection is highly dependent on your specific
connections, ////comments are welcomed here////.
Q.8: I thought that my Internet Service Provider should provide me
access to Usenet.
A.8: Most of the ISPs (Internet Service Provider) do offer a local news
server, and you should ask them to give you the name of the server.
There is a common convention that the name would be similar to the
ISP's other servers' names, but with "news." or "nntp." as a prefix,
("news." is more common). For example, if your ISP's main WWW site is
www.symplectic.net, you may try to guess and check, if
news.symplectic.net is the name, (the name serves as the address of
the news server, so that the news reading software will able to
identify it in order to connect it.
However, many ISPs do not offer access to a news server, and there are
many reasons why people might be unhappy with the news access they get
from their Internet access provider, and want to use news-servers,
different from the default of the provider.
Comments on A.8:
* There will usually be one advantage of your Internet Service
Provider's default news-server upon others. It is usually much faster.
Q.9: I have an access to Usenet but I found that there are groups that
I don't have access to.
A.9: None of the news-servers is subscribed to all newsgroups, i.e.
each of them holds only part of the newsgroups. One of the differences
between different news-servers, is the list of the newsgroups they
hold. Later on, we'll see more differences between different
news-servers (in fact when we said in A.8 "unhappy with the news
access" we meant to these differences).
Q.10: How long are messages kept on the news-server? (i.e. until I
cannot read them with my news-reader). Can I retrieve them after
that period? I found that some news-articles reside much longer than
A.10: This is another property in which news-servers differ. One
news-server will hold messages sent to some newsgroup for two weeks;
another one will hold them only for two days. About one giga-bytes
of new data is added to Usenet every day! (estimated on January 1998)
It is almost impossible to hold messages of many newsgroups for long
periods. The amount of time that a news-server will hold a message
until it will be deleted can be different for different newsgroups.
The news administrator (the person who is in charge for the
news-server) can set different times for different newsgroups. After
that, they are deleted.
There is a special field in the header (i.e. a special line in the
first few lines of the news articles; among the "Subject:", "Date:",
and other fields), which allows the sender to request a different
expiration date for that news article. It is called "Expires:" and
is useful for important messages, such as FAQ files, or messages from
the moderator, to stay longer on the newsgroup. A news administrator
may set the news-server to bypass these expiration dates if longer
than the preset expiration date for news on that newsgroup. The
moderator may also reset expiration dates for his newsgroup.
If you missed a post by few days you may try to connect to a different
news-server. You may also send to the newsgroup a request to repost
the message to you (for example, to your personal e-mail), but the
best thing is to use DejaNews (see A.29)
Q.11: I'm subscribed to some newsgroup. There are messages,
which were sent to this newsgroup that I don't receive.
A.11: In order to fully understand this answer, return to it after
reading A.13, and A.14
There are many reasons for this. For example, if a message has in its
header, a field "Distribution:" and it is not set to: "world", then
the distribution of the message is restricted by its author. The
Distribution field tells the servers to forward the message only to
servers which are part of the distribution. However, the whole set of
valid values for the distribution field, is not well standartized,
and many news servers ignore it, and distribute it even outside the
region for which it has been restricted to.
Another option is that the newsgroup is moderated and the message was
sent, but not (/yet) released by the moderator.
In fact, if the author crossposted the message to several newsroups,
(see A.16 for the notion of "crossposting"), and some of them are
moderated, the messages may not appear in any of the newsroups until
the moderator who received the message will release it for
publication (in order to understand the above, you should read A.14)
It is not, however, rare that your news-server will not receive news,
which had to be there:
unlike ordinary e-mail which has a specific destination, and there is
some mechanism that checks that it will reach its destination one way
or the other, for news messages, there is no trace whether they
reached your local news-server or not, and it is the responsibility
of your news-server to load all news.
It is enough in many cases that the message will not be routed in one of the links in the chain from the news server of the person who posted the message to the news server you are using, to result, in message does not reach to you. Many reasons may cause this: First, a slow connection. If it takes more than 500ms for your news-server to respond to a call by the master news server (See A.14) then 24 hours per day would not be sufficient for receiving the (say) 150,000 new messages arriving each day to the master server, [C.1]. Access to hard-disk may slow this access to more than 500ms per news article. Many servers are set to keep news so as to use as much of their storage as they can. If however, the storage limits are reached, they won't be able to receive new messages beyond that limit, and messages will be lost. These are just examples. As I said before, there is a chance that your connections are fine, but the news-server that feeds you, does not receive all news. A solution to this is to be fed by more than a single master server. Comments on A.11: C.1: If you noticed that 500ms times 150,000 is less than 24 hours, it's not a mistake: for any news article there are two calls: one for the header of the article and another for the body. ---- Q.12: I received a reply to some message, but only few days later I received the original message being replied. A.12: Different messages travel in different paths to different news-servers. If you receive the reply of Mr. B to a message of Mr. A before you receive the message of Mr. A, it means that it took less time for message A to go to Mr. B's news-server and then for Mr. B's message to go to your news-server, than it took for Mr. A's message to go to your news-server. Sometimes it takes few days and even weeks for a message to find its way to your news-server. It may happen (although rarely) that you'll receive the original message only after the reply to it was deleted. ---- Q.13: How does the news-reader communicate with the news-server? A.13: There are two cases; if the news-server is the same computer as the one that you use, then a direct reading of news is in order. Usually, the news-server would be another computer. within the internet the communication is held via the same connections used for telnet (i.e. via TCP/IP). The language which is used is called NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol). NNTP has commands like `LIST', `GROUP', `HEAD', `NEXT', `QUIT', etc. The news-reader knows it is talking in NNTP language because it initiates the talk. In order to let the news-server know that it should interpret the input as NNTP commands, there is a special port on the computer which serves as the news-server. Everything that is sent to that port is interpreted as NNTP commands. The standard port for NNTP is port 119 (Many computers serve both as news-servers, mail-servers, ftp-servers, WWW-servers etc., for each such an application there is a port for incoming requests, e.g. the port for HTTP is 80, for GOPHER it is 70, for FTP 21 (commands) combined with 20 (data), for SMTP (= e-mail) it is 25 etc.). You may now begin to communicate with your news-server manually: say if you know that news.bgu.ac.il is a news-server that permit browsing from your machine, you may just type: `telnet news.bgu.ac.il 119' as a result the computer will enter a listening mode. If you'll type `LIST' the server will respond in listing all the active newsgroups it supports. You may use all other commands, and in the end type `QUIT' to quit. The news-reader does the same thing automatically. Of course not every one is allowed to "talk NNTP" with any news-server. Every server has a list of other news-servers and clients permitted for communication, (by `clients' we mean sites where simple users are permitted to browse). Comments on A.13: * Recently, there are efforts to make the Internet more secure. There is an extension to the internet protocol called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). At the moment SSL is not yet a standard, although Netscape have aleady adopted it. The extension of NNTP for use over SSL is called SNEWS (Secure News) (although the name NNTPS is also mentioned from time to time). The port for SNEWS (or NNTPS) is 563 (instead of 119). The snews protocol should not be confused with the snews (Simple News) news-reader program. ---- Q.14: How do the news messages travel ? A.14: Within the Internet, the news are traveling from one news-server to another via the same NNT-Protocol. Each news-server initiates connection periodically with another news-server(s) (one or more) and receive/post updates from the remote news-server. The computer which initiates the connection is called slave-news-server, the other one is called master, (master news-server). There is a way (i.e. NNTP command) to tell the news-server which news are already on the slave server so the master wouldn't send them again. The update period is set by the slave server. Remember that news-servers do not keep news for long periods, so that if the period would be too long, the master news-server will delete some of the news before the slave server received them. Usually, the update period is faster. When a news-server receives a message, it delivers it to all its neighbours. Special attention is made so no loops are generated. If you send a message to a moderated newsgroup, the news program will post the message to the moderator of the newsgroup, instead of delivering it to its neighbours. Only after the approval of the moderator, it will start to propagate to the news-servers. For more information related to moderated newsgroups, see: ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/news/moderated-ng-faq
The proper way to send a message to more than one newsgroup, is by
crossposting. Crossposting and the way news-servers deal with it, are
described in A.16 .
A comment should be added here: NNTP is the standard for Internet, but
older methods such as UUCP (Unix to Unix CoPy) are still around.
Unlike NNTP which is an Internet protocol, UUCP is a batch command,
originally, a Unix command (in fact a part of a package of commands),
which allows you to copy files and directories from one machine to
another using their serial ports either directly or via modems. It is
mainly used off the internet, though.
There is a universal network originally called UUCPNET, and
now called UUNET which uses UUCP by a store and forward mechanism
along its connections to deliver news-messages. Today this network is
connected to the Internet. Historically, UUNET was the first
commercial network on which Usenet news traveled, in their early days.
(see http://www.uu.net/lang.en/about/ for more info).
Comments on A.14:
* You'll find in some of the literature that the "CP" of UUCP comes
for "CoPy", other literature says "Copy Program", and other
literature says: "Copy Protocol". Although the last option sounds
very "logical" I chose to believe the first one, as it has the
standards of commands' naming on Unix.
* Advantages and disadvantages of UUCP over NNTP:
NNTP ask for list of already existing articles on the slave
news-server, and only the new ones are sent. UUCP just copy the
whole database from the master news-server to the slave news-
server. It seems that using NNTP is much faster than using UUCP,
but in many cases UUCP is much faster: The complex conversation
that the two servers do for each news article when using NNTP,
doesn't lead to efficiency, while the huge files submitted using
UUCP are simpler, and allow a very efficient compression, (in many
Q.15: I want to enter deeper into the NNTP protocol and to the logical
structure of Usenet, (i.e. message delivery in Usenet).
A.15: The place for the more technical information about Usenet
structure and NNTP is the relevant RFC's (RFC = Request For Comments).
The RFC files are the standard tools for system maintainers.
NNTP is described in RFC977. The Usenet structure and the meaning of
each of the fields in the header of a news article, is described in
RFC1036. You may find those files either in ftp://ftp.funet.fi/rfc in
a compressed format, or in either a gzipped format or in a plain
format from ftp://ftp.faqs.org/rfc/ .
In HTML format and an RFC search engine can be found on:
You may also retrieve those files from:
An old draft version of the RFC which was meant to replace RFC1036 can
be found in a compressed format on
ftp://ftp.zoo.toronto.edu/pub/news.txt.Z (in the same directory
you'll find also a version in a PostScript format). An html version
of this file can be found on:
In the lack of update to the old rfc1036, the son-of-rfc1036 is
considered by many, as a valid companion to rfc1036.
There are many works done at the moment on the Usenet standards:
The IETF group for working on NNTP extensions is NNTPEXT,
See http://www.academ.com/academ/nntp/extensions .
Another IETF group: USEFOR is now working on a document which will
replace the old rfc1036. See
http://www.ietf.org/html.charters/usefor-charter.html for more info.
(http://www.landfield.com/usefor/ for archives).
Yet another IETF group (IETF-NNTP) works on replacing rfc977 (see:
Another group (MailNews-L) is working on harmonizing E-Mail and
(archives on: http://segate.sunet.se/archives/mailnews-l.html).
Q.16: How can I send a single message to a few newsgroups? Also, I
replied to a message in rec.humor with a silly joke of my own, and got
complains from readers of comp.periphs that my message was improper in
A.16 The header of a message to Usenet contains a header-field called:
`Newsgroups:'. For example when you send a message to comp.periphs
your news-message will have the header-field:
Sometimes there is more than one newsgroup which is proper for your
message. For example, if you want to make a joke on some new
peripherials to be added to the computer in the 21th century, you may
wish to send it both to comp.periphs, and to rec.humor . The proper
way to do it, is not by sending a copy to each of the newsgroups, but
rather to `crosspost' it to both newsgroups. This is to be done by
changing the `Newsgroups:' header to:
`Newsgroups: comp.periphs,rec.humor'. In this way a SINGLE COPY of
your message is submitted, but it will be indexed in both newsgroups,
so readers of any of these newsgroups will see your message as if it
was sent to that newsgroup. Furthermore, on some newsreaders, if one
has read your message on one of these newsgroups and marked the
message as `read', it will be marked as read in both newsgroups saving
him from reading the message again, when accessing the other
newsgroup. Notice that there are no blanks between the list of the
newsgroups - Blanks are not allowed, (so for example:
"Newsgroups: comp.periph, rec.humor" is erroneous.
There is however one point to be aware of. If someone will read your
joke on rec.humor he might reply with a joke of his own, on `dogs in
the 21th ct.'. Why not? It is a proper topic for rec.humor. But the
poor guy didn't noticed that his reply will also be crossposted to
comp.periphs, and flames are already on their way. You could save this
guy the trouble, by setting another header-field:
`Followup-To: rec.humor' which will automaticaly set `Newsgroups:'
header of the replies, to rec.humor, even for people who replied to
your message at comp.periphs .
More on this topic, and other topics related to filtering of
news-messages, can be found in a book named: "Tricks of the Internet
Gurus" published by SAMS in 1994. This book can be viewed online on:
http://www.mcp.com/ after registration to their Personal BookShelf.
The fact that when crossposting, only a single copy is distributed,
has a special meaning when you submit your message to newsgroups, and
one of them is moderated. In such a case, the message will be sent by
e-mail to the moderator, and will not appear in any of the newsgroups
until the moderator will release it. The moderator can release it
only for the newsgroups which are not moderated by him/her, and
hopefully, the moderators are responssible enough, not to moderate
other newsgroups. An even more problematic case, is when one
crossposts a message to more than one moderated newsgroup. In such a
case, the message will be sent to only one moderator. If the moderator
approves it, it will cause the message to appear in all other
newsgroups as well (including other moderated newsgroups).
On the other hand, if you post a message to two mailing lists which are
gatewayed to Usenet, each of them will forward the message
independently to Usenet, and instead of having one copy with two
newsgroups listed, there will be two messages with the same message-id
(message identification header field which is supposed to be unique
for each message), but each of them would have its own single value
for the "Newsgroups:" header field. In such a case many news-servers
will reject the second copy as they identify that they already have
the message, and hence the message would appear only in one of the
Q.17: Where can I find a news-server which I will be permitted to
A.17: James W. Abendschan is maintaining an updated list of news-servers
that give free access permission [C.1]. The service is called NewzBot
and you may find it on:
This service allows you also to search for NNTP servers which carry
a specific newsgroup. It also provides a PERL source for the program
that is used for producing the list. The service no longer provides an
option to post messages to newsgroups.
A program equivalent to the one that Abendschan runs, is called
NewsHunt, [c.2]. It's free and can be found on
It runs under Windows-95 (or above) or under NT-Windows with Winsock.
Another one who provides a service equivalent to Abendschan's is
Michael Voigt. See: http://www.muenz.com
You may also try one of those:
* http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Pines/3959/nntp0.html (I
suspect that it is obsolete, but give it anyway)
You may find other sites on:
(treat the two above lines as a single URL without blanks, as if they
were on a single line).
See also http://www.daydreamer.threadnet.com/usenet/index.html which
also provides a list of commercial Usenet providers.
Another site which deals with the topic is
There is a mailing list dedicated to informing about public/free news
servers, called Radiohead69 . In order to subscribe to that mailing
list, send an empty message to: email@example.com .
You can also read its archives online on:
Comments on A.17:
C.1: I highly recommend you to first read the notes and FAQ on
Abendschan's list of news-servers, before using the list.
C.2: Run it at your own risk. I didn't check it, and I don't know
anything about its source.
* Public NNTP/Usenet servers tend to be closed shortly after they are
discovered by many people, Don't trust an old list of Open NNTP
Q.18: Can I use a Web-browser as a news-reader?
A.18: Usually, the answer is YES.
You are already familiar with URLs of the type:
2) ftp://site.address/file.name .
There are two more types of URL's [C.1]:
4) nntp://news.server/news.group .
(Notice the two backslashes are missing in URLs of type 3).
First we should discuss URL's of type 3. Notice that there is no
reference to a news-server. URL of type 3 will browse news only from
the default news-server [C.2]. So how do you define the default news-server?
There are three possibilities:
The first one is to set the default news-server by setting a proper
variable before running the news-reader/Web-browser. For example if
you are on Unix machine and want to access the newsgroup
rec.audio.high-end using the news server: news.huji.edu (Just for
example; you should of-course use a news-server with right access
permissions) then, you may set the environment variable NNTPSERVER by
typing (without the quotes): `setenv NNTPSERVER news.huji.edu'
and then enter your Web-browser and jump to URL:
You may also type: news:* in order to receive a list of newsgroups
supported by this news-server with links to the newsgroups.
In some Unix machines which work in older shells such as ksh,
bash, zsh, etc. `setenv NNTPSERVER news.huji.edu' won't work and you
should replace it with `NNTPSERVER=news.huji.edu; export NNTPSERVER'.
On IBM-PC you may set this environment variable by adding the
to your config.sys file. This, however is not supported by many
I do not know what are the equivalents to this method for other
machines (such as Mac). ////comments are welcomed here////
Usually this option will work, but not always (depends on the specific
parameters given either at the configuration file (which defines the
defaults), or at the system configuration at the time of compilation.
So we come to the second option: changing the default parameters in
the setup file; most of the Web-browsers have a file which holds many
setup and preference parameters. For example lynx, the most popular
text-only Web-browser, has a setup file called .lynxrc which has a
parameter for default news-server. Set this parameter and everything
In many Web-browsers (e.g. Netscape, MSIE) you may change this
setup from the browser by clicking on the `Options', `Preferences',
`Setup', or `Configuration' menu.
For some shell accounts [C.4], your Internet system provider sets the
default news-server before compiling the Web-browser in a manner that
does not allow using a different news-server. If this is the case then
you cannot use type 3 URL in order to browse from a different
NNTP type URL allows you to browse directly from a different
news-server. For the above example you may type:
and you'll receive the list of news of this newsgroup held in this
news-server (with links). You may also just type:
nntp://news.huji.edu to receive the list of newsgroups supported by
this news-server, with a link to each of them.
In some systems, the system programmer configured the Web-browser so
that it won't respect the nntp:// type of URL.
The structure of a URL of a specific news message is:
news:messege-id , or nntp://news-server/message-id
where the message-id of the news message should be substituted for
"message-id" [C.3]. If you know a message-id for some message, but
your default news-server does not hold it anymore, you may use
Dejanews to receive the message on
This is mainly good for people who are accessing the Internet by
e-mail, as it sometimes happens that by the time passed since they
receive a list of news-messages until they request them, some of them
might already be removed. The format for the direct URL of a document
via Dejanews if you know the message-id, is
where you should put the message-id instead of "mes-id".
Comments on A.18:
C.1 The URL of the Secure news (see comment to A.13) as adopted by
Netscape is snews://news-server/newsgroup . It is not mentioned
here, since it is not accepted as a standard yet.
The more standard URL for secure news should be
because "snews:" is the secured extension to "news:", and "nntps:"
is the secured extension to "nntp:". See also next comment.
C.2 In fact more and more browsers support the structure:
news://news-server/newsgroup , which has a meaning identical to
nntp://news-server/newsgroup , but formally it is non-standard.
C.3 Any e-mail and news message has a specific header field which is
called: "Message-Id:", each message has to have a unique value for
C.4 I use the term "shell account" here, adopting it from the Unix
world, and generalizing it to any account on a machine which
provides multiuser accounts, usually connected permanently to the
Internet. This generalization although formally incorrect, is a
* tin is very useful if you're not using a slow news-server. When
initialized, tin loads up lot's of data, of which most of it may
not be necessary for you. On a slow connection it may take a lot of
time. I don't know about rn and nn in this respect. Web-browsers,
would do much better on slow news-servers.
Q.19: Where can I find a nice news-reader for my computer?
A.19: There are lot's of news-readers free (either public-domain or
freeware) retrievable via anonymous ftp. If you know which news-reader
you prefer, then you can use Archie in order to find a location where
you can download it. If not, you may use ask for help in the relevant
newsgroup such as news.software.readers .
Tucows (http://www.tucows.com) is a great place to locate Internet
related software, and has a specific section on IRC clients, with
grades, info, links to the software at a local mirror, and links to
the web pages for the products. It is a much recommended starting
point to look for a software for your type.
Another option is to use the services of shareware.com by entering
putting news as a first word and reader as a second word with `and'
option and choosing a category from MS-Windows(all), Macintosh, DOS,
OS2, UNIX, etc.
A third option is to use http://www.download.com which provides a
metadirectory for software, and has a section on Internet related
programs and a subsection for news readers.
A fourth option is to use Slaughterhouse:
News Utils : http://www.slaughterhouse.com/newsutil.html
As for Unix, I use a program which is called tin, and I highly
recommend it. Other popular programs are trn and nn. A very popular
news-reader for PCs is the FreeAgent (or its commercial version:
Agent), which is mentioned on A.21 .
Well, if at this stage you still do not have a Usenet access, you may
use e-mail in order to advice news.software.readers group or Archie
facility (See A.24). When sending a question to a newsgroup via
e-mail you may ask to reply to your personal e-mail address.
Comments on A.19:
* If you don't know what is Archie, you may look either at the
Encyclopedic dictionary mentioned in A.31 or better, to read the
Roadmap lectures mentioned in A.32.
Q.20: How do I tell my news reader the address of the news-server?
A.20: First you may try setting a proper variable. For Unix you should
set the environment variable NNTPSERVER exactly as explained in A.18.
You may also look at the defaults setup file for your news-reader
(.tinrc for `tin' newsreader) or in the help files of the news reader.
If none of the methods work, you should consult the
news.software.readers newsgroup, (you may look at A.24 in order to see
how to do it by e-mail).
In many programs, you may set the address of the news-server from the
program window itself, by entering the "setup" or "connection" or
"Options" or similar option in the commands bar.
Q.21: Are there offline newsreaders, so I can reduce the connection
time to my Internet provider?
A.21: Yes. Let me introduce this point. This file is around 70Kb.
How much time it will take you to finish reading it? And how much time
it will take you to read a 1Mb of text? You would never finish it.
If you want to read the 60 messages arrived yesterday to, say,
two newsgroups of your interest, and also presumably want to reply to
a few of them, it will take you maybe an hour maybe more. In many
cases you don't want to be online all that time as you might pay for
it, not talking of keeping the telephone line busy all that time.
You would prefer to just download this 300Kb of text (120Kb when
compressed) and then disconnect, read it on your free time, type down
the replies on your free time and then connect again (or wait until
you connect again) and upload the replies. You may do everything
manually, which will take you time, and would be uneasy, but in order
to make this procedure easier, you may use an offline news-reader.
Popular offline newsreaders, such as FreeAgent (for MS-Windows,
http://www.forteinc.com/agent/index.htm) or YARN or SOUPER and MacSoup
(for Mac), use a protocol called SOUP (Simple Offline Usenet Packets).
Older standard which was used in BBS's but have compatibility problems
with the standard structure of Usenet messages on the Internet,
is QWK . Other less common standards are the QWK with "header in body"
format, which is a modification of the QWK, and ZipNews.
A freeware program such as AutoAgent, can be used to Schedule
complicated tasks to be done automatically at a given time, including
connection to the Internet etc.)
It can be downloaded from: ftp://ftp.mjtnet.com/pub/autoagnt.zip .
In case of disconnection one can use the Agent Task Monitor,
see: http://www.skuz.net/madhat/agent/download.html .
Those who use shell connection (more correctly, their main computer
and disk space is on the remote shell and their local computer serves
usually as a terminal) have to use one program (called packer) at the
remote computer (e.g. uqwk for Unix) and another (the offline
news-reader) on their local computer, (e.g. Yarn for PC or MacSoup for
Mac). Those who use SLIP or PPP connection do not have to use a
packer, but only an offline news-reader which knows how to work with
SLIP/PPP connections. (Agent/FreeAgent for PC, NewsWatcher for Mac,
To get more info on SOUP you are referred to:
Older versions of SOUP called HDPF and SLNP. See the above SOUP
document for more info.
A list of offline software can be found in a file `software' on
or you may look at another file called `yet-another-faq' on the above
directory, for more info on offline readers for shell accounts.
You may also advice the alt.usenet.offline-reader newsgroup for more
Recently, more and more sophisticated offline usenet downloaders are
introduced. These allow you to set them to monitor periodically, the
Usenet, for news-messages which meet your needs (filtering them) and
download them automatically (at times where traffic is lower), and
even manipulate them. Some of them have a spam filter; some of them
allow you to automatically decode binary files. Few examples:
Tifny (free!!) (http://www.tifny2.com/index.html),
I received a nice list of them when used the power search at
shareware.com with keywords "news" and "automatic"
(The power search is on: http://www.shareware.com/code/engine/Power).
Another sites where I found such and other interesting programs are:
Look at the 00_index.txt file on those directories.
Q.22: Are there other sources of Usenet beside news-servers? Can I
access them by telnet or Gopher? By BBS? By e-mail? By WWW? and if I
prefer to post messages to newsgroups via e-mail, can I?
A.22: Gopher is a dying application.
As far as I know, there are only two Gopher servers that provide
access to Usenet: gopher://services.canberra.edu.au:4320/1nntp , and
Verbally: (a) gopher server: services.canberra.edu.au , port: 4320 ,
type: 1 , path: nntp . (b) gopher server: gopher.pwr.wroc.pl ,
port: 70 (default), type: 1 , path: 1/news .
About Usenet by Telnet, I know of no such a list.
About BBS's: there are BBS's with access to Usenet. For more about
lists of BBS's, see A.28.
A powerful way to access usenet by WWW (http) is the DejaNews service
(see A.29). A.29 also includes a reference on how to use it by e-mail.
* Another Usenet by WWW service is FeedME at http://www.feedme.org/ .
It supports over 30,000 newsgroups.
* Talkway service is another one: http://www.talkway.com
* RemarQ (formerly called Supernews) provides Usenet via WWW for free,
including postings, (Also a non-free NNTP service):
* Liquid (http://www.liquidinformation.net) seems to be a service
similar to RemarQ.
* A similar service is recently introduced by DejaNews, and called
MyDejaNews. For more info see A.29 .
About Usenet by e-mail, please read A.24. You will also find there
references to lists of e-mail gateways to usenet, so you can post
messages to newsgroups via e-mail.
A very useful method of receiving news via e-mail is the Netnews
Filter at Reference.Com.
This service allows you to define one or more profiles. Whenever its
news-server receives a news message which meets any of these profiles,
you receive its first few lines by e-mail and may ask for the full
message by e-mail. You may also search mailing lists and make back
searches (half a year back or so), on Usenet.
You may use this service either from the URL:
http://www.reference.com or by e-mail.
For more info on the e-mail interface of this service, send an empty
message to: firstname.lastname@example.org .
See also about newsgroups with mirror lists in A.25.
Q.23: I wish to test some software/methods for posting to newsgroups.
A.23: ... but you don't want to bombard newsgroups with your test
In fact, there are special newsgroups for test messages. To list some
of them: comp.test, alt.test, news.test, ...
There are such newsgroups for most of the hierarchies, for example
the israel.* hierarchy has israel.test newsgroup etc.
You may freely post as many news messages as you need to those
newsgroups and probably nobody will bother to read them beside you.
Posting a message to a test newsgroup may result in a few
autoresponders responding to you via e-mail with a confirmation that
your test message has been accepted by them from their servers. If
you wish them to ignore your test message, type the word "ignore"
somewhere in the subject.
Q.24: But I only have e-mail access.
A.24: One can do almost everything on the Internet using e-mail
only. In many cases it is not easy, as the cruising is not
interactive. It is, however very valuable to be aware of the
possibilities, as they might be useful also to people with a direct
An excellent references to "doing things via e-mail" are the email4u
and getit4u documents (two out of the four parts of the 4u series).
They are wisely formatted to be easy to use as reference texts. You
may get these files, by sending a message email@example.com
leaving the subject empty and write ONE of the following lines as the
body of your message:
or by e-mail by sending an empty message to firstname.lastname@example.org
for receiving email4u.
In order to receive getit4u use the same methods but with "email4u"
replaced with "getit4u".
The best starting point on how to do everything in the
Internet using e-mail only, can be found in a manuscript named
"Accessing the Internet by E-mail ("Accmail" in short, or sometimes
called "Accmail FAQ") which is also known as the "Dr. Bob's guide to
Accessing the Internet by e-mail", for its original author:
Bob Rankin. (It is now maintained by Gerald E. Boyd).
The document is now available from several automated mail servers.
To get the latest edition, send e-mail to one of the addresses below.
To: email@example.com (for US, Canada & South America)
Enter only this line in the BODY of the note:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (for Europe, Asia, etc.)
Enter only this line in the BODY of the note:
send lis-iis e-access-inet.txt
You can also get the file by anonymous FTP at one of these sites:
Another option is to post a message to email@example.com , with
"send accmail.faq" (without the quotes) as the SUBJECT of your
You can find a much more detailed information about accessing Internet
by E-mail on G.E. Boyd's site:
After reading the Accmail document, you may return to reading this
file. Although this text is not directly aimed at people with e-mail
access only, one may use the agora servers / other servers mentioned
in the Accmail document in order to receive or use almost everything
In particular one can use the Agora servers with URLs of the type
"news:" and "nntp:" explained in A.18 [C.1].
Accmail also includes a list of mail to news gateways, which allow you
to post messages to Usenet newsgroups via e-mail.
It is in many cases, more convenient to use these gateways, even if
you can use a news-reader instead.
Another list of mail to newsgroups gateways which is updated more
frequently, can be found on
http://www.sabotage.org/~don/mail2news.html . This list is usually
more updated than Accmail and it contains also another type of mail
to newsgroups gateways in which you send your message to mail2news@...
These gateways allow you to crosspost your message to few newsgroups,
but in order to use them, you must be able to add lines to the header
of your message. You should be able to do this with your mail program.
The fact that when crossposting a message to a few newsgroups, only
one copy is posted (cf. A.16) can be used to allow one to post a
message to some newsgroup even if this newsgroup is not supported by
the mail2news gateway. The trick is to crosspost the message also to
some test newsgroup (cf. A.23) which is supported by that gateway.
This will, of-course, work only for mail2news gateways that support
crossposting. The gateway will post the message, because it supports
one of the newsgroups. It will, however leave the "Newsgroups:" field
unchanged, so that further servers will index the message in the other
newsgroups as well. It is considered highly abusive to use improper
newsgroups for this trick. I believe that the *.test newsgroups are
proper. The price that you might have to pay, is, as mentioned in
A.23, receiving confirmation from autoresponders. You may, thus prefer
to use the most isoteric test newsgroup that the gateway supports,
with the hope that most of those autoresponders do not monitor it.
You can use a Getweb or a www4mail gateway to post messages to Usenet
via WWW posting services. such gateways do not offer handling of
cookies, and thus you can only use only WWW posting services that
offer posting without cookies. Posting a message via WWW uses Forms of
Method=Post, and only WWW4mail and Getweb gateways can handle such
forms. At the moment, the only service I know of, which allows
posting via WWW without using cookies, is Reference.Com [C.2], but the
service suffers stability problems. For posting via Reference.Com,
you need to be registered and get a special password, (registration is
free). If you already registered with a password then you may use the
following URL (Insecure, as you must provide the password in the
You should treat the two lines above as a single line without blanks.
You should replace in the above line "your.email.address" with your
e-mail address, and "the.password.for.this.service" with the password
that you choose when registered to this service. Do not use any other
password. If you havn't registered yet, and wish to register, then
use the following URL:
DO NOT use the same password, that you use in your account.
If you forgot your password, you may use:
Comments on A.24:
C.1 When you retrieve a list of posts using agora or similar service,
you find near each news message, a reference in square brackets,
and in the bottom you find in the reference its message-id. You
should use the URL "news:message-id" for receiving the document
itself. Also see A.18 about using Dejanews when mesage-id is known.
C.2 I'm checking right now if the services at RemarQ and at Liquid
allows posting via accmail methods.
* You may find a list of working Getweb and www4mail servers on
G.E. Boyd's site: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/1236/ .
Q.25: Can I subscribe to newsgroups as E-Mail lists?
A.25: Some of the newsgroups are mirrors of e-mail lists, or have
mirror e-mail lists. For example, all newsgroups beginning with
bit.listserv.* are (or were [C.1]) mirrors of Listserv e-mail lists.
Many other newsgroups such as comp.virus or rec.audio.high-end, have
mirror e-mail lists in a digest format.
A list of newsgroups which you can subscribe as e-mail lists, with
instructions, is sent periodically to news.groups and news.lists.misc
You may receive those posts either in the RTFM database (see A.27) on
or you may also receive it by sending a message to:
firstname.lastname@example.org leaving the subject empty and typing the
following line as the body of your message:
or if not there, you may search those files with DejaNews (see A.29).
Comments on A.25:
C.1 bit.* newsgroups were openned to be gatewayed to mailing lists.
During time, however, due to privacy issues and other reasons,
many of those mailing lists owners stopped the gatewaying and as
a result, the newsgroups and the mailing lists might be active,
but detached. Besides, soon the recent gateway for the bit
hierarchy will cease to work, and unless another service is found,
the gatewaying will cease.
Q.26: How can I find if there is an archive for some newsgroup?
Perhaps a WWW page for this newsgroup?
A.26: Lists of newsgroups with archives one may find at
ftp://ftp.sterling.com/moderators/Archives.html . None of the lists
claims to have a full list of archives for newsgroups.
There is an effort to provide an updated list of all moderated
newsgroups archives on:
http://www.landfield.com/moderators/Archives.html (HTML version)
ftp://ftp.landfield.com/moderators/Archives.txt (text version)
An attempt to archive all newsgroups is the DejaNews service (see
There is also a list of newsgroups with WWW pages at
Q.27: Where can I find more information on specific newsgroups? Is
there an archive of the most important documents on those newsgroups?
A.27: You may receive more information and an archive of the most
important articles on any specific newsgroup in the address:
for example use
for more info on news.software.readers. Following the links from this
web-page, you'll find an archive of the most important files on
news.software.readers, such as FAQ files (FAQ = Frequently Asked
Questions is the place where the most common questions on a specific
topic are made and answered by one or more experts).
Other places for FAQ files:
* http://www.faqs.org , and ftp://ftp.faqs.org .
www.faqs.org also has a full text search engine, list of other FAQ
resources, name searches, searches by authoer etc.
For the search engines look at http://www.faqs.org/faqs/ [C.1]
faqs.org is my favourite location for FAQs and RFCs.
* FAQ List at Ohio State
* Usenet FAQ Search engine:
or if you want directly to search for a keyword (in this example:
any word which starts with win3):
and another: http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/Excite/AT-faqsquery.html
For other places to find FAQ files look at:
http://www.ii.com/internet/faqs/ which is also mirrored on:
Comments on A.27:
C.1 A notice for e-mail only users: the search engine at faqs.org uses
forms of method=post, which means that regular agora servers are not
adequate for using it.
Q.28: Wouldn't it be easier to replace my Internet Service Provider with
another with better Usenet service? Are there lists of free/commercial
Usenet/Internet service providers?
A.28: Most of the Internet service providers (ISP's) or Internet Access
Providers (IAP's) provide a Usenet access. There are Public access
Internet providers, free of charge, such as the Freenets (e.g. telnet
to freenet-in-a.cwru.edu), RAIN (http://www.rain.org), Prairienet
(http://www.prairienet.org), Apana (for Australia only;
http://www.apana.org.au), Nyx (telnet to nyx.cs.du.edu), and more.
(In the above I partially fell into the trap of writing a never ending
and rapidly changing list).
Some give you a shell account with disk space, free of charge, and you
can login through telnet from your original host. Others allow you to
access the Internet/Usenet via a slip/ppp connection. BBS's may also
be relevant. One may of-course replace one's ISP but prices, number of
phone lines, phone bills (distance), and other arguments should come
Some list of lists of either free or commercial BBS's
and ISP's would be:
another list of lists.
for a list of Freenets,
or http://www.usask.ca/~scottp/ for a link to the list (as the
address of the list may change.
"Community networks: an online guide to resources" with relevant
05. Another site with links to Free Internet Access is:
07. http://www.thedirectory.com (originally:
http://www.vni.net/thedirectory/) a list of BBS's and ISP's.
08. Commercial ISP's in USA/Canada by area code: send an e-mail
message to ISP@Penny-a-Pic.com . Type "???" in the
subject prompt, where `???' should be replaced by the (phone) area
code you're interested in.
09. For another such a service by e-mail, send a message to
email@example.com with "info" (without the quotes) as the
10. A short list of commercial Usenet access providers, is on:
11. Free and commercial shell accounts: http://shells.interblod.com/ .
12. http://www.isp-lists.com/ provides mailing lists for discussions
More info can be found on
http://home.eunet.no/~presno/bok/v7.html which is mirrored with:
If none of the sites helps you. Try to send a question to the
alt.internet.access.wanted or the biz.comp.services, or the
alt.internet.bbs, alt.bbs and alt.bbs.lists newsgroups.
Comments on A.28:
* For the e-mail service at penny-a-pic, The system will reject your
1. You are asking for the same area code more than once within a
period of 10 days.
2. You have reached you maximum of 5 requests within a 90 day period.
Q.29: What is the DejaNews service ? Are there Usenet Search Engines?
A.29: DejaNews is a free service accessible via HTTP (the most common
communication on the World Wide Web). It allows you to search Usenet
news in a very wise way. Unlike most news-servers, it holds over 50
gigabyte of data (checked on Jan 1998), i.e. it holds news ranging
back to Mar 1995 and not only that there is no intention to delete any
of them, but on the contrary, to add and catalog news even backward,
to dates before Mar 1995.
You can search by subject, title, dates, newsgroups, authors, and
even much more sophisticated searches, and ways to sort the results.
The Dejanews home page is on: http://www.dejanews.com/ .
The power search engine of Dejanews is on:
you can use Dejanews directly as to access recent news from a
newsgroup by using the following URL:
where you should replace "group_name" with the name of the newsgroup
you wish to access.
If you wish to access, but not yet decided which one, then perhaps a
good starting point would be: http://www.dejanews.com/home_bg.shtml
You may also see G. Boyd's wsdeja.faq file for more options to use
G. Boyd's document wsdeja.faq (see below near the end of this answer).
There is also a free of charge personalized news service at Dejanews.
customization. MyDejanews allows you also to post messages to Usenet.
It can be accessed on http://wmod.dejanews.com/rg_enter.xp .
For further info see http://www.dejanews.com/help/help_mydn.shtml .
Another NetNews Search Engine is the AltaVista.
AltaVista is a Generic Search Engine. You may choose to make the
search in its Usenet database.
Unlike DejaNews, the AltaVista does remove old news articles.
The AltaVista address is http://www.altavista.digital.com/ .
Since, one can use e-mail to obtain Web-Pages, it is possible to
query DejaNews/AltaVista using e-mail. The problem is of-course, to
understand the format. Gerald E. Boyd, wrote instructions on how
to use Search-Engines via e-mail. You may receive his documents,
by anonymous ftp to ftp.netcom.com on the directory pub/gb/gboyd/
you may find the info documents:
wsdeja.faq (for DejaNews)
wsalta.faq (for AltaVista)
and many other files on other Search Engines.
You may receive these files by e-mail, using ftpmail services. For
example: you may send a message to either firstname.lastname@example.org , or
email@example.com , with the following lines as the body of your
where you may put one or more of the following lines instead of
the three dots:
You may use other ftpmail services as well (see Accmail document
mentioned on A.24) but you should use the `open' command as stated
above, or otherwise, it may not work.
Q.30: What about the Netnews Filter Service at Stanford? The one at
InReference? The one at Vigilant?
A.30: The NetNews Filtering Service at Stanford University is no longer
available. All subscribers were transferred to InReference.
Later on, InReference changed their name to Reference.Com, (See A.21).
Vigilant service was also shut down.
Stanford University gives its program for filtering Usenet messages
for free (See ftp://db.stanford.edu/pub/sift/sift.ps for a text in
PostScript), so one may assume that the number of such services will
grow. Their program is called SIFT (Stanford Information Filtering
The difference between those services is mainly due to the difference
between the different news-servers of those sites.
Another Usenet filtering service is the NewsSIEVE at:
Unlike Reference.Com , this one cannot be accessed directly
by e-mail. After registration (using WWW) the filtered messages can be
accessed using most of the news-readers (NNTP clients).
This service started on Apr 1996, and supporting 8232 newsgroups
(checked on 8 Mar 1999). You may define what newsgroups are of
interest for you, and then, according to info (grades) that you
provide about the articles that you read, they construct and improve
the filtering for you. After some usage of it, the filter should be
rather wisely chosen to meet your preferences.
Q.31: There are few terms in the Usenet jargon that I don't understand,
or wish to get more info on them.
A.31: The answer here is extended to terms from the
A great encyclopedic dictionary of internet/computation terms is on
Foldoc: http://wombat.doc.ic.ac.uk/ and has mirrors in USA on:
http://wagner.princeton.edu/foldoc , http://www.instantweb.com/foldoc/
Another jargon lexicon is `The Jargon File 3.0.0' on
or copies of it on:
North America: http://www.clueless.com/jargon
(redirected to: http://barry.dobyns.com/jargon3.0.0/)
Comments on A.31:
* If you use foldoc via e-mail, via Accmail's method for WWW by e-mail
(A.24), use the line:
where you should replace the `****' with the term you want to search.
If you want to use a term with more than one word such as
"source code" use `+' sign between the words for example to search
for the definition of `source code use:
Q.32: Can you recommend a general source for more information on Usenet?
A BASIC INTROduction to Usenet can be found on:
1. CyberCourse - this is an excellent series of 5 lectures on Usenet
(parts 1-5). In order to receive the first lecture you should send
an empty message to: firstname.lastname@example.org , and you may guess
how to retrieve the other parts (part2 to part5).
2. Roadmap lectures, lecture number 8 on
http://www.netsquirrel.com/roadmap96/map08.html , or
(the whole set of Roadmap lectures can be found on:
3. Zen and the Art of Internet, version 1, Chap. 4:
or one of the files: zen-1.0.dvi.Z , zen-1.0.tar.Z , zen-1.0.txt on
directory: ftp://ftp.csn.org/pub/net/zen/ .
4. EFF guide to the Internet, Chaps. 3 and 4:
5. Usenet documents on Usenet and on proper and efficient usage:
6. `How to Read the Network News':
and `How to Use Usenet Effectively':
7. http://www.newbie-u.com/news/welcome2.html is a very recommended
8. The official home page for the news.newusers.questions newsgroup:
A GENERAL INFO about Usenet can be found on:
1. Yahoo, at
2. Usenet Info Center, at http://sunsite.unc.edu/usenet-i/ (obsolete)
3. MG's House of News Knowledge, at http://www.duke.edu/~mg/usenet/
4. Infinite Ink's documents, on:
5. Usenet RKT (Rapid Knowledge Transfer) on:
6. http://www.imc.org/usenet-main.html holds links to FAQs about
Usenet, and to Usenet standards.
7. http://usenet.miningco.com/ .
Some milestones in the HISTORY OF USENET can be found in "A Short
History of the Net" on http://www.ocean.ic.net/ftp/doc/snethist.html
or ftp://ftp.ocean.ic.net/pub/doc/snethist.html .
You may receive the longer version by replacing snethist.html by
nethist.html in any of the last two addresses.
You may find there a very nice story on how three frustrated and
brilliant people succeeded in entering their newsgroups through the
back door, without violating any of the Usenet ethics, by inventing
an alternative net: the Alternet (known today as the anarchic alt
Very good source of information on the history of computer networks,
including Usenet, and including tables on Usenet growth can be found
in Hobbes' Internet Timeline on:
or via e-mail by sending an empty message to:
Another document on the HISTORY and future of Usenet and Usenet
culture, can be found in Chaps. 2, 3 and 4 of NetBook on:
Also see "Netizens: an anthology", Chap. 10 on:
Comments on A.32:
* Some sources still consider the Alternet (or the alt hierarchy) as not
part of the Usenet. Some other sources consider only newsgroups
belonging to the "big eight" as Usenet newsgroups, and all others as
non-Usenet newsgroups. Most of the sources treat all public newsgroups
as part of the Usenet.
Q.33: Can I distribute this file?
A.33: You may distribute it freely. You may cut, and edit the file as
you wish, as long as the changes are made under your name.
This document can be sent for free, and by anyone, and you may not
use it in a manner which may restrict this right. Proper attribution
is assumed. If you do anything of the above, I would appreciate
telling me about it.
A General comment:
* Please do send me corrections, and comments on the article or on my
English. Notice that I do not hold older versions of this article, so
it won't help me much to receive a comment such as "on line 45, word
number 8 ....". If you make a link to this file on your web-pages, I
would also appreciate telling me about it (and which location of the
file did you use.
My decision was not to add the very long (and very boring to most of
us) list of kind people who contributed to my knowledge written above,
or sent me their comments.
I hope, though, that I didn't forget any of them, (their messages are
kept in a special folder).
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